Our local government leaders are closest to the hearts and minds of the Americans who live, learn, work, worship, and vote in our communities. So doesn’t it follow that these regional, city, and town policymakers are best suited to engage and inspire the public toward climate solutions that will affect their daily lives?
This is what Annabelle Jaeger thinks. She represented the EU’s Committee of the Regions at last month’s UN climate talks in Lima, where she made the case for why local governments should play a leading role in planning for the impacts of climate change, including formal recognition in all climate negotiations leading to Paris 2015.
Local governments are on the front lines of tailoring polices to their communities’ needs and making them become a reality. As reported by The Guardian, UNDP estimates that 70% of climate change reduction measures and up to 90% of climate change preparation efforts are initiated by local government. Decentralized local and regional partnerships like the Covenant of Mayors and Mayors Adapt have helped to mobilize resources, cut costs, and improve policy delivery. By sharing what they’ve learned about what works or fails on-the-ground, local leaders can inspire national and global decision makers to act, and help save significant resources, time, and money. What could be a more perfect application of the time-tested mantra, Think Global, Act Local?
The implication is that local governments act as incubators of policy innovation and public engagement for nationwide and global climate solutions. Doesn’t it make sense for them to be recognized by the global community as key contributors to one of the toughest challenges of our time?
Learn more about how to connect the dots for your constituents and partners when talking about the strategies and benefits of your local climate initiatives. Our new report, Connecting on Climate: A Guide to Effective Climate Change Communication, offers specific tips on how to communicate on climate change and explains how anyone, from community leaders, journalists, scientists, educators, policymakers, and other interested citizens, can better communicate with and engage the American public on the issue.
Local authorities are closer to communities and often more innovative than national governments. Cutting them out of climate negotiations is a big mistake
Unless we, as an international community, significantly reduce our carbon emissions by the year 2100, temperatures could soar by 4.8°C. The impact is unimaginable.
This is why all eyes are on the next UN climate talks in Paris in 2015 and expectations are high. During the UN preparatory talks in Lima in December 2014, I represented the Committee of the Regions – the EU’s assembly of local and regional authorities – and demanded that local government be formally recognised as a key player in all future climate negotiations.
The initial talks were promising but the final text was disappointing, with the reference to local government being removed.
But why should local government shape international climate change agreements? Here are five reasons:
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